When it comes to starting solids, it seems like there are several schools of thought. There’s the traditional route of rice cereal and purées, and within that category are those who make all their purées from scratch and then there are those who use store-bought purée. There’s baby-led weaning, which is considered progressive in some cultures, but if you talk to any mom with more than two kids you’ll probably hear something about how their third started on table food much more quickly than their other children did. There are those who say, “Food before one is just for fun,” and those who feel like their babies need more than breastmilk or formula to stay satisfied.
And I’m going to tell you that however you decide to start feeding your babies solids is for you and your child’s pediatrician to decide. I like to do a large combination of all of these things because I am all about balance, reality, and the ease with which I can adapt my kids to everyday life.
But I’m also going to tell you that amidst writing this post and introducing solids to Chloe, I also had to change my entire approach. So take it all with a grain of salt, and modify when needed. There's a saying in Spanish, "Cada hijo es un mundo," and it translates to "Each child is a world." Basically, no two children are the same, and what works for one of your children may not work for another. So like with anything else related to children, adapt adapt ADAPT.
First things first. Talk to your child's pediatrician. Make sure your pediatrician thinks your child is ready to start solids. With both of my kids, since I was exclusively breastfeeding, my pediatrician's recommendation was to wait until 6 months to introduce solids. I also feel more comfortable waiting until my kids are sitting up a little better, even if it's with support, just so that they aren't flopping over.
Decide on how you will start and gather what you need. If you're buying foods, figure out which ones you need to buy. If you're making it yourself, you'll need a few additional supplies! You don't need a special baby food maker - but you will need something in which to steam your veggies, a good blender, and containers to store and freeze the foods. You can check out my Amazon Idea List to see some of the things I use.
Just start! Don't overthink it too much. If your baby is showing interest in foods, it's probably a good time to try it.
A couple of key points I follow, regardless of what methods I'm trying:
Baby-Led Weaning vs. Traditional Purees
When I was ready to introduce solids to Caleb, I did a lot of reading up and came across baby-led weaning (BLW). I thought it had some really great merits, but I was still a little hesitant. I had a conversation with a great friend about it and she told me she had done a combination of BLW and traditional purees with her twins. After talking about how she did it, I knew it was something I could really get behind.
Some of the things I liked about BLW:
So how did I integrate the two?
Whenever I tried a new food, I introduced the "solid" first. These are finger-sized pieces of food that baby can grab and bite. Vegetables are steamed or boiled so they are soft enough for baby to chew. I prepared half of the food this way and then pureed the other half. After they had a chance to explore the new food, I would give them some in puree form so that I could make sure they ingested it. So I basically combined the best of the two methods and found what worked for us.
Again, this may or may not work for you, and for Chloe, it's been an adventure. I finally figured out that she likes fruits, but she isn't crazy about veggies, so if I mix the two, she will eat it. Of course she wants nothing to do with homemade food!
If you are in the process of starting solids with your little one, I hope this helps. But again, please please please check with your child's pediatrician before you introduce solids. This is simply me experience with my children and I am not a medical professional.
Good luck, mommas (and daddies, too!)! You've got this!
*The Read to Learn Book Club does not give away book bags with the monthly books & activity guides;
these were only gifts to bloggers as a thank you for sharing the information about the Book Club.
I’ve talked before about how important reading is. One of my favorite gifts to give is a book - because there is a book for every occasion out there. And while books aren’t always the most exciting gift, they can be incredibly meaningful, and the right book at the right moment in someone’s life can be powerful and life-changing.
I also love to gift books because it can get expensive to purchase books constantly - as an avid (well, avid pre-kids) reader, I can tell you just how pricey books can get. Of course, there is always the library, but sometimes it's nice to have books you can call your own.
The Children’s Trust knows how important reading is, and how essential it is for there to be books in the home. This summer, I participated in their #Read30 Movement. But did you know that if you have a three year old and you live in Miami-Dade County, your child can receive a free book every month for a year while they are three? The Children's Trust Read to Learn Book Club encourages parents with children three years or younger to sign up to receive free books.
This is a totally free, monthly book club, and it is open to all three-year-olds in Miami-Dade County. On their third birthday, all children are eligible to receive a free book every month, delivered right to their home.
Children may be registered for The Children's Trust Read to Learn Book Club up to six months before they turn three, and on the month of their third birthday, their year of fun and learning begins. What if your child already turned three, you ask? You can still register them up until one month before a child's fourth birthday - I actually just did Caleb’s! And, you can actually register your child to receive books in English or in Spanish.
The Book Club supports The Children's Trust Read to Learn initiative. This initiative was formed in response to research which shows that early reading experiences, along with opportunities to build vocabulary, and literacy-rich environments are the most effective ways to support the development of pre-reading and cognitive skills, so children are reading at or above grade level by third grade.
So if you are a resident of Miami-Dade and your child is about to turn three or is three now, register them! Give them the gift of reading, of a literacy-rich environment, and teach them to love books.
The Read to Learn Book Club is funded and administered by The Children's Trust, Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership and Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe.
For some more tips and facts about early literacy, visit here.
What are you waiting for??? It's FREEEEEEEE! Go sign up!
Since we finished the addition on our house almost four years ago, I have been wanting to do a gallery wall of some kind. We have so many beautiful photos and they're mostly stored on phones and computers, so I really wanted to display some of our favorites and put our families up on the walls of our home.
We finally decided on this wall right at the entrance of the house. We had had a big piece of art up on the wall for a few years, but we felt like it was time to make it more personal. Eddie measured the wall, I set out on Pinterest to find a sample of something we liked, and we got to work.
We went with a very symmetrical, organized look because Eddie is a symmetry and numbers guy. I also wanted to be able to do a combination of portrait and landscape orientation. So when I found this pin, I thought it was absolutely perfect for what we wanted.
I did some calculations and drew up a diagram. We decided on 11x14 frames matted to 8x10, and I ordered them from Amazon. You can find them here (it is an affiliate link). Once they arrived, we put the photos in (I ordered those from a pro website I use but MPix and Artifact Uprising are two of my favorites for printing great quality images). We then used Command Hanging strips (2 strips per frame) to hang them up.
Eddie measured the space between each frame and was really meticulous about putting them up. Good thing, too, because it turned out perfect! For those of you who want to know, we left 2 inches between each frame.
I absolutely love how this wall turned out. I love walking into the house and seeing some of our most loved people on the wall, and I love how Caleb walks up to the photos and points to everyone. It really has helped to make our house feel like more of a home, and now I'm trying to figure out which other photos we can put up and where! ;)
There was an article floating around Facebook recently about how raising our kids near their grandparents can be tremendously beneficial for both our children and our parents (their grandparents).
I was so fortunate to grow up with three of my grandparents around and involved in my life (I am still lucky enough to say that I have two of them still around). My kids are even luckier because they have all four of their grandparents around and involved in their lives. Eddie's mom spends one day a week here with the kids and picks Caleb up from school, my dad picks Caleb up and takes him to school one morning a week, and we try to spend time with both sets of grandparents every weekend - sometimes all together and sometimes separately.
And while grandparents can sometimes overwhelm us as parents and have a hard time with boundaries, I am the first to recognize how important they are to not only our children's well-being, but to our own.
Grandparents have been through it before. What seems like a huge deal to us, they know is just a phase and that "this too, shall pass." They can share a perspective with us that might make us feel a little less overwhelmed by whatever situation we are enduring with our kids - be it tantrums, giving us a hard time about eating, or not sleeping.
They also have a seemingly infinite amount of patience. Because they aren't elbow-deep in the trenches all day anymore, they can usually handle our kids with an ease that leaves us with mouths gaping. Situations that would have me reacting or snapping at Caleb, they handle with grace and patience. Caleb will fight both Eddie and I on everything from brushing his teeth to picking up his toys. The grandparents swoop in and ask in another way, and BOOM! He's doing whatever we wanted or needed him to do. I am honestly flabbergasted at the way that our parents can get Caleb to do almost anything.
For Eddie and I, grandparents provide some much needed relief and some extra hands when we need it. Knowing I can count on our parents and that they are so close by is something I have been trying not to take for granted. Just this past week, both kids had been sick, and Caleb wasn't improving. Chloe had a pediatrician appointment, so I wanted to take Caleb to the appointment as well so the pediatrician could check him out. But the thought of going to the pediatrician with both kids by myself proved a little daunting, so I asked my mother-in-law to help me out. Without hesitation, she changed her plans and came to help me with the two kids at the pediatrician's office. This isn't the first time she has done that for us, either. And this week, my mom, knowing I had had a rough week with the kids, made an unplanned visit that allowed me to shower in peace and blow dry my hair. By the time she left, Caleb had eaten dinner and bathed, too - and I had gotten a tiny respite.
I almost feel bad asking for help sometimes, because I know that if I ask, they will move mountains to make their hands available for us. Many times I'll text my parents and ask, "Are you guys busy on Saturday?" And most of the time their response isn't, "We are," or "We're not," it's more often, "What do you need? How can we help?"
I know the relationship with grandparents can sometimes be difficult to navigate - as someone who finds it hard to relinquish control of my children to others, I really understand this. I become a huge micromanager when it comes to my kids. But I know how important grandparents are, and I am more and more grateful every day that my kids are blessed with four truly amazing grandparents. So while I am firm on some of my requests, I also try to give a little, because I know how special that relationship can be.
If you and your children are fortunate enough to have a good relationship with grandparents, who are involved and willing to be a part of your children's lives, take advantage of it. Give your parents and your children the gift of each other.
It's almost the unofficial end of summer, even though in Miami it will feel like summer for another couple of months. I've shared my love of white shirts and white summery dresses before, and this shirt dress marries those two categories perfectly. It's casual enough to wear to a Labor Day BBQ but chic enough to dress up for brunch. And actually, it's not a dress at all - it's a tunic (and it's on sale)! I picked it up in the store thinking it was a dress and was surprised when I put it on in the fitting room and it was open all the way to my hips. I didn't think I would like it over pants, but I knew it would be perfect as a dress.
I asked my mother-in-law, who is an amazing seamstress, to sew up the sides for me, and this was the result! I was really happy with how it turned out, and it really was the perfect addition to my wardrobe.
One important thing for me right now is how nursing-friendly pieces are before I add them to my closet. Because this one unbuttons, it is really easy to nurse in!
I love this look for brunch! I paired the dress with a wide-brim straw hat, a red lip, some neutral sandals, and a colorful bag. White nails polished off the look and kept it really fresh and clean.
I've already been thinking of how I can transition it into fall - maybe a chunky oversize cardigan and some boots - even though right now it feels like fall will never come to Miami (and truthfully, it won't).
Go ahead, make those brunch plans for this weekend. ;)
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Growing up, I never had a pool in my backyard. It was something I always wished for, but a pool just wasn't in the plans for my parents. The closest we got was having a jacuzzi that we used to play in. When Eddie and I got married, we lived in a condo and there was a pool in our building. I swore I would use it all the time, but the truth is, I might have used it three times in the two years we lived there.
Whenever Eddie mentioned a pool, I kind of brushed it off and thought, "Eh, maybe one day." But one day came, and Eddie had Hiroki fromKiso Group come out and look at the backyard and draw up some plans for a pool. Honestly, until they started digging, I didn't really believe it was going to happen!
Our backyard is not huge by any means. But we hadn't really done much to it since we moved in. We had a gazebo, some furniture, rocks, and pavers. We put down new sod several times, but the backyard always became a muddy mess so we rarely used it. As a matter of fact, I always played in the front yard with Caleb.
Going in, we knew we couldn't have a huge pool. We wanted something we could cool off and lounge around in, and that the kids would be able to play in on the weekends and in the afternoons. We also wanted a table where we could entertain.
Eddie took care of the designing and I just gave my input on a few things I really wanted. Because I've had several people ask, the dimensions of the pool are 11' x 16' and the deepest part of the pool is 4 feet deep. We wanted a larger first step area for sitting and the kids to play and that is 1 foot deep. If you follow along on my Instagram and watch my stories, you got to see the whole process of this being built. But these pictures really show off just how nice everything turned out.
As far as the patio furniture we found some we loved at Target! I linked similar items below because they are sold out. When it came to the grass, we knew grass wouldn't survive back there because it had always been a mess in the past. To help with keeping the pool dirt and grass free and to keep the backyard looking nice all the time, we decided to go with turf. It has been one of my favorite decisions! We also planted a hedge of podocarpus around the pool equipment and around the perimeter of the backyard.
We have spent a lot of time in our backyard this summer, and a couple of days ago, we were all hanging out in there, there was some lounge music playing, and I really felt like I was on vacation at a trendy boutique hotel. It has become a great space for entertaining (and will be even nicer for entertaining when the weather improves!). And because of the turf, it's almost an extension of the house and we can be out there barefoot (which I loveeeee!).
Also, you know water safety is important to me, so we have several safeguards in place. First, our alarm goes off every time any door is opened, and we hear it all over the house. Second, there is a latch on the doors leading to the backyard that we make sure to keep in place when we aren't going in and out. We also have a pool fence that goes up when the pool is not in use!
Have a great weekend everyone! If you need me, I'll be sipping on some Rose by the pool. ;)
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A couple of weeks ago I flew from Miami to New York to attend a product launch event for JOHNSON'S. I documented some of my trip on Instagram, but I didn't mention something. That was the first time in over ten years - since before Eddie and I were married - that I had really traveled alone. I've driven to Orlando from Miami before and met Eddie there, but in the almost NINE years we have been married, I haven't had a reason to travel anywhere alone. Add to that having a child attached to me 24/7 for the last nearly 4 years, and well, there went the time!
I always have a little bit of anxiety about traveling - mostly when I am in the packing stage. The morning I was leaving to New York, my stomach was a mess, I was so nervous, and I packed and re-packed no less than 3 times. I texted my best friend, and told her how nervous I was and she told me, "Of course you are, you're leaving your kids and husband behind." In my heart I knew my kids would be fine and well taken care of. Eddie is an amazing, hands-on dad and is so good with both of them. Plus we had the grandparents lined up to help out, too. There was nothing to worry about.
But then I thought, "What if something happens to me?" I literally created dozens of scenarios in my mind and stressed myself over things that, were they to happen, would be completely out of my control. Finally I snapped myself out of it, took a deep breath, and put my fears in God's hands.
Off I went, to do the airport on my own, get an Uber on my own, check into a hotel on my own, figure my meals out alone, sleep on my own, and attend an event where I didn't know anyone. But something happened along the way there. I relaxed. I enjoyed myself. I listened to music. I walked alone. I enjoyed silence. I walked like I knew where I was going. I met up with a friend for drinks and stayed up later than usual. And I felt good about it. I missed Eddie and I missed my babies, of course. I thought about them every moment. But doing this on my own made me feel capable, and it made me feel like I had a little bit of my self back.
When I was in college, I went to New York with three of my girlfriends. On our last day, we were tired and went back to the hotel room to nap. Well, I ended up being the only one who woke up from the nap and needed to eat, so I left the hotel and wandered around Times Square on my own for a little bit. The next morning my friends gave me some grief about going out on my own, but I never once felt uneasy about doing it. This whole trip kind of made me feel like that.
I have this fear of growing older and being so reliant on Eddie that I am incapable of doing things on my own. Eddie loves to take care of me, and I absolutely love that about him, but I don't want to be in my 60s and scared of doing things because someone else always did them for me. And while I don't want to leave my husband and kids all the time, I think doing it was really empowering for me.
Some of you might be thinking - what a baby, I do this for work all the time! And girl, do I salute you, but I have never had to travel further than Orlando for work, and even that was with coworkers. So for me, this was a big deal. But it was a reminder that I can do things I'm not always comfortable with, and that sometimes, stepping out of my comfort zone can be more rewarding than I anticipated. For me, this wasn't just a "work trip". It was about finding a little piece of myself, and growing in a way I didn't know I needed to.
So the next time you get a chance to do something that is new to you - don't hesitate. Take the step. I don't think you'll regret it.
P.S. As soon as I decided to go on this trip, I went looking for an outfit. I found this look at New York & Company - it was on a mannequin and I loved the combination of the polka dots and stripes. (Shop the look below.) I also loved the movement on the pants, but this bold of a print mixing was also outside my comfort zone - so you could say I tried several new things this trip!
I scheduled a shoot with Lauren of Laurel Creative and when we met up to take these photos, it was raining! (You can probably tell in the first couple of shots if you look really closely.) But we stuck it out, and got it done in under 30 minutes. I felt like a sweaty mess and my hair lost all it's curl after the drizzling rain stuck to it, but I still love what these photos represent (And hello, how amazing is that taxi shot?!).
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Disclosure: I've partnered with PerfectFit Meals for this post.
As a mom to young kids, I don't often have a ton of time to prepare meals for myself on a daily basis. Most days I'm okay with leftovers or some eggs for lunch, but sometimes I want something different. When PerfectFit Meals reached out to me, I thought this was something that I could really fit into my day-to-day.
Unlike a meal delivery service, I can find these at my local Publix grocery store, and I can keep as many or as few on hand as I want. They give me the option to have a nutritionally balanced lunch, designed by a dietician, and filled with the same ingredients I might use at home.
They are sealed for freshness, so they don't have to be frozen, and they take less than three minutes to heat up and be ready to eat. They use a process called high pressure processing to kill off bacteria and make the food safe to eat and keep in your refrigerator longer than most meals. All of the meals I tried were delicious, and I was actually able to eat them all one-handed because of the way they were prepared.
My husband actually tried some of the meals as well and he was really impressed with the taste. While some of them have a higher sodium content than I would like to consume on a really regular basis, they did have some options that had a lower sodium content. If you're worried about sodium, the Roasted Pork Loin meal has the lowest sodium content of all the meals and was so tasty (it was actually my favorite!). I also don't eat a diet high in sodium, so that's not really a concern for me if I'm eating a couple of these a week. They have a couple of Paleo options if you're on a Paleo diet. A couple of the meals (like the Turkey Skillet Scramble I'm pictured eating) had a little more of a kick than I'm used to, but they were still good and didn't have enough of a kick that it affected Chloe when I nursed her.
I thought the meals were filling, and hearty enough that I wasn't hungry afterwards. The meals didn't taste like they had been sitting around forever, either. I can honestly see myself keeping a few of these in my fridge for the days when I realize it's 2 pm, I have to pick Caleb up from school, and I haven't had lunch yet. Because they are ready so quickly, they're just a really good option so I'm not eating fried eggs or peanut butter and jelly five days a week (clearly I have a very grown up diet lol).
So if you're struggling to eat a balanced meal a couple times a week, grab a couple of these and keep 'em in your fridge. I don't think you'll be disappointed! You can find out if your local grocery store carries them here.
Two weeks ago I took a plunge and cut my hair. I feel like there are two kinds of people: those who rarely ever change their hairstyle, and those who love to change it up constantly. I definitely fall into the latter category. I’ve never been scared of cutting my hair or changing my style up. I’ve had my hair really long, very short, and every length in between. I’ve also played with color a lot. Since I have a lot of grey hair, dyeing it is a must. I figure if I have to dye it, I may as well have some fun with it!
I decided sometime in late June that I wanted to cut my hair. My four month postpartum hair loss had begun, and my hair was falling out like crazy. It was so long, and while I loved it, each strand that would fall out would seem to get tangled or caught somewhere. I’d find strands in Chloe’s diaper, in my bag, everywhere. I was constantly checking her fingers and toes to make sure there weren’t any hairs wrapped around them. Between the length and the loss of volume, my hair was weighed down and looked flat all the time, too. And while curling my hair would always make it look great, the reality is that from all the dyeing and heat styling, my hair was damaged beyond belief.
I figured that cutting my hair would give me good volume, would improve the health of my hair, and would reduce the volume of hair that was falling out and ending up all over the house.
Once I make the decision to cut my hair, I don’t usually second guess myself. I may go back and forth on the exact style, but once I decide, I’m pretty committed. I have never doubted a haircut, and I have always been happy when I’m done in the chair. I’ve been pretty fortunate to never have that “I hate this” feeling after a haircut. I know part of that is luck, but there are also a few things I do to make sure that I love my haircuts.
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.